After four years i finally feel that i am becoming a runner – well a jogger actually, though i aspire to becoming a runner too. Chronic health issues, niggling injuries and, whisper it, age, have slowed my development at times.
Today i ran the Irish Runner 5 Mile in the Phoenix Park in Dublin in a time of 45:23. I would have liked to come in under 45 minutes but it was a very humid morning and a hilly route so i am quite satisfied.
Yesterday i ran my 44th parkrun in the equally beautiful Marlay Park with a best of year time of 26:28 on another humid morning. Those who have suffered from chronic illnesses, such as fatique, will understand what a recovery milestone it is when you can run two days in a row – which is not to say i am not suffering now, i am, but i’m sure i’ll be grand by tomorrow, aided it appears by my new embraced vegetarian diet. I am looking forward to reaching my 50th milestone in parkruns and attribute much of my development as a jogger to the availability of a timed, free and friendly run every Saturday morning.
But back to today. I woke up before 7.00 to the sound of lashing rain and opened the shutters thinking to myself ‘i can’t possibly run in that rain especially with the latent chest infection i am still suffering from’, and i fell back into bed. A few minutes positive thinking and the rain falling off to a simple shower, had me out of bed and putting on my shorts. My stomach was playing up again, irritable bowel syndrome at best i fear, and it is not helped by the combination of excitement and anxiety with which i face race days. Two small slices of toast later, i decided to drive to the Phoenix Park in case the rain came back so that i could change into dry clothes as quickly as possible. I’m trying to become wiser in minding myself, all part of my meditation journey and the positive influence of the Sri Chinmoy meditation group that i have joined.
I wasn’t the first, though it was close and i parked up on the main avenue through the park and settled back to do 20 minutes meditation. By the time i had finished the morning had brightened and the runners were arriving from all sides – multi-coloured as always. I strolled around to soak up the atmosphere, visited the port-a-loos before the queues formed, dropped off my bag, stretched a bit and jogged a bit and took up my position near the front of the Third Wave. Another few minutes quiet meditation and, inspired by that, a good look around at my neighbours as i expanded my desire that i would have a good race to the wish that they would all have a good race and everyone would finish hale and hearty, satisfied with their endeavours.
And seven minutes later, we were off – already we could see the starters from the Second Wave disappearing over the distance horizon. The runners from the First Wave had long disappeared and, as final times would show, were nearly a third of the way around the course by the time we started. It was a slow start, as always when there is a large number of runners and there were about 3,000 of us. Slow starts tend to be good though and i slowly increased my pace passing out dozens of my fellow runners. I wasn’t sure what pace i should run at but just as i was debating it a lady in pink passed me and seemed to be going at a pace i could keep up with. I tucked in behind her and we continued to move up the field. Before i realised it we had reached the 1 Mile Flag, a quick check of my watch and some mental artimetic, not something i excel at, revealed i had run a 9 minute mile – perfect, especially with the slow start.
Shortly afterwards i lost my pink guide as she dropped off the pace a bit and the miles, 2, 3 and 4 fell aside. One of the reasons that i feel i have now become a runner is that i am enjoying the running more, during the race i feel good and that is a most wonderful feeling. I was still on track for a 45 minute finish – one of my running aims is to be able to complete a 5 Mile race anytime under most conditions in under 45 minutes. The last mile was tough though as a long gradient sucked the remaining energy from my legs. Inevitably you can hear the Finish Line before you can see it and that always gives me a boost. There it was, and soon it was in sight. I dug deep and increased my speed – i have also refound my fast finish and usually manage to finish with a sprint passing out another few runners on the way – and so it proved.
Sweating is one of the things i do do well and this morning, with the humidity, i excelled myself. I had gratefully taken two cups of water during the race, as i usually do if i get the chance, one to pour over myself and one to sip at – it cools me down and doesn’t make me any more saturated than i already am. Goodie bag and t-shirt, bottles of water and bunches of bananas – reasons in themselves to become a runner. I retrived my bag, changed into the event t-shirt with pride and munched my way back to the car.
It wasn’t long before i got my result by text, slightly over the 45 minutes but i was happy enough. 1,579th out of 2,579 runners maintaining my middle-of-the-road record. More significantly i was 35th in my age-group – reasons to be cheerful. An average speed of just over 9 minutes per mile – so proud.
The winner completed the 5 miles in just over 23 minutes – can you even imagine running that fast?
One of the other significant things about the race this morning is that it is one of a series, the Dublin Race Series 2016, organised as part of the Dublin marathon and culminating in that race in October. By completing the 5 mile this morning, i feel that my attempt to run the marathon this year has just become more real, and more likely to happen. Other races in the series are a 10k in Swords in mid-July and a 10 mile back in the Phoenix Park in mid-August. A fourth race, a half marathon in Phoenix Park again in mid-September is also included but i didn’t enter. Two reasons really – i love running in the Phoenix Park but don’t want to overdo it. More significantly though, there is a half-marathon in Sligo, my home county on September 10th which is my Dad’s birthday and i thought i would like to run it in his memory.
Time to rest and recover and then step up my training. I’ve been filling in one of those training diaries and have reached the end of Week 6. The first two weeks i was running twice a week but for the last four weeks that has increased to three times per week – i include parkruns and races as training as the ultimate objective this year is to get fit and hardened enough to run the Dublin marathon. Health permitting, i intend to up it to four times a week from next week.
Keep fit my friends